Don’t Expect Facebook Back Anytime Soon

Facebook is blocked, and if you’re the kind of person who lives in China and enjoys using Facebook, it might be time to finally get that VPN set up because it’s looking like you’re not going to see legal Facebook access for some time.

Why? Well, the People’s Daily (h/t Shanghaiist) — mouthpiece of the CCP — ran a piece about an online poll in which Chinese netizens indicated in startling majority that they feel Facebook should 1) shut down any Uighur Independence groups it might have and 2) be punished for its “role” in organizing the Xinjiang riots earlier this week. Since Facebook is unlikely to close that group (or any other group), and since 81.7% of netizens voted Facebook should be “punished”, we suspect you may not be seeing it unblocked for a long while.

This strikes us a bit like punishing a hammer because someone used it to build a crappy house or punishing a gun for shooting someone, but that’s just us…

In other news, I’m off to Washington D.C. with a bunch of high school students for the weekend so we won’t be updating, but if you can read Chinese, check out Ai Weiwei’s tweets about the Xinjiang riots here. We may translate some of this stuff when we get back.

0 thoughts on “Don’t Expect Facebook Back Anytime Soon”

  1. Ai weiwei fart again ?

    I didnt read his blog yet, but let me guess :

    The wrong policy by CCP is the reason behind this riot.

    If there was free information, 7.5 riot would not have happened.

    Chinese government is tyranny, Fuck CCP !!

    Did I miss something ?


  2. To Wahaha,

    I went there after I read your comment. And yes, he did blame the commies.

    I don’t know about Urumqi, a city big enough that Han and Uighur communities can live without much contact with each other. But in the small place where my friend is now, they get along quite well. As I said, he had been frequently invited to weizu homes and even though he was easily inebriated he still got drunk by the hospitable hosts.

    The other day OTR said this might change how the authorities approach such issues and I said I doubt it. I doubted it after the Tibetan riots, but now after several days I’m begining to see that Xinjiang is very different, with more population, Muslim sensitivities, geological significance with Central Asia, etc. So I think these riots have the potential to actually change the way the government handles minority issues. For example, loosened grip on religious practices and weaker push of Mandarin education. I know there’re economic concerns that a lack of Chinese language skills means dimmer job prospects but if they don’t want to learn, just let them be. A relative of mine went to South Africa this year. Basically he saw effective segregation with white people living in gated communities and only black residents in the downtown areas. Is that a model for China? I don’t think so. But at least it now seems peaceful.

    And even though OTR said these riots might make the authorities slow the pace of Han immigration, I still don’t think so because the “Developing the West” drive is one of their national economic strategies .


  3. “…but reading this I vomited, literally.”

    Would you have felt such nausea if we transpose Han and Uighur in that article? I’m sure that you will claim the answer is ‘yes’, but your pro-colonisation stance suggests otherwise.


  4. The reports on this riot by West media are disgusting. It even use pictures to compare this riot to 6/4, that is unacceptable.

    Chinese government has all the right to block such messages from aboard, the only purpose of this is causing chaos in China, no other reason.

    It is not about human right, it is about if a person has the right to light his neighbor’s house.

    If this is part of the human right, then F@#$ the human right !!!


  5. Update:

    The woman, the friend of the family, turned out to be okay. And my friend said almost all the people sent to Xinjiang this summer from his institutions have taken out leave and they haven’t been to work for a week, probably more days to come.


  6. Made mistake :

    I guess that only preson who would be happy after reading such reports is Li Peng, who declared martial law in 1989.

    By the way, why the heck was the Uighur woman doing in front of police ? Why didnt NYT reporter ask her ? who knows ? maybe it was NYT reporter who told her to do so. Will this picture win the Pulitzer price ? I truly hope it will.


  7. wooddoo,

    I said in fool’s mountain that for democracy being realized in China, China needs a strong pro-democracy leader.

    What West media has done is convining Chinese that “only CCP can save China.” Sorry to say that cuz I know you dont like CCP or you hate CCP. But the reality is that in China, it becomes harder and harder to stand up against CCP, famous activitists all associate with West who Chinese believe try to divide China.


  8. No you don’t have to be sorry. I don’t like the CCP. But if China turned democratic tomorrow and the Chinese public voted for a prez, I wouldn’t vote for anyone because I don’t trust the minyun either.


  9. chinasmack is down, danwei is down as well. who is gonna be the next?
    chinageeks ? chinese government is a piece of shit even maggots care not to eat.


  10. Wahaha,

    It seems, when contrasted to other post, that you wrote that second one (5) in passion. Personally, I’ve found CNN’s coverage to be disappointing, but the rest of it seems basically fair, especially in contrast with Xinhua.

    But I don’t understand why you support the government for blocking foreign media and websites (you’re apparently part of that 81.7%). Is it really fair for the government to demand that Facebook, an American website, censor itself when it’s policy is to not do so? Like Custer said, why would you blame the gun for being fired, or blame the computer for being used to create a virus?

    And even more so (and an even more futile question), what is it the Chinese government hopes to gain by punishing the many for the actions of the few? After all, it’s not like the people organizing the rallies, and eventually riots, are going to turn themselves into the police because facebook was blocked. And do you really think users won’t find another way aside from facebook, considering there are things like forums and messenger programs to use?


  11. Josh,

    Both China media and West media are crap. Here is the difference :

    In China, STATE-CONTROL media doesnt report things that may threaten the government’s power.

    In West, RICH-CONTROL media doesnt report anything that may threaten the benefit of the rich, and manipulate the facts, misleading people, I gave a link of NYT, in which an Uighur woman stood in front of military trunks and police, what the F@#$ is that ? comparing this riot to 6.4 ?

    Here is the link :

    www nytimes com/slideshow/2009/07/07/world/0707-CHINA_index.html

    Please insert dots behind www and nytimes.

    In China’s website, some Chinese have voiced their supports to block the internets from aboard, this never happened before. This is how far West media has gone.

    Chinese went through civil wars, political movement and CR, and in general, Most people in China dont want to take much risk to do something that my cause chaos. That is why the slogan “Stability is paramount” by CCP sells.

    It doesnt matter if people from West believe or not, more and more Chinese believe West politiicians and media cant wait to see chaos in China, and lot of Chinese believe that anti-China organizations use internet to organize riots in China. If CCP claim that it has to block the internet from aboard to prevent riots like the one in Xinjiang, it becomes a legitmate reason for some Chinese people.


  12. (this one may be out of topic)


    google “The Great Bank Robbery: How the Federal Reserve is destroying America”, read the link on russiatoday.

    Why does report like this never appear on US media, UK media or French or any democratic countries ?

    Yes, media under democracy reports conflict between people and people, between people and government, but NOT between the rich and people. That, is the so-called “free” media you are so proud of. That is why an Indian billionaire dared to build a 2 billion dollar home in Mumbai, a city that has 19 million people living in slums.


  13. Quick check in from the road: Wahaha, you’re sort of ignoring Josh’s point. People are always going to find what they want on the Internet, even in a country like china. The government doesn’t really increase stability by blocking facebook, all it really does is make them look more aurtoritarian, and inevitably inept — becyase barring some serious reforms this kind if thing IS going to happen again. When it does, should they block THAT website too? What about the time after that? They can’t possibly keep up with the speed at which the Internet changes, so ultimately this block just makes them look weak and creates new enemies because it’s annoying. Case in point: a Chinese friend of mine with no cause to even care about these sorts of things otherwise is now upset because she was using facebook to show friends photos and keep up with friends abroad. Now she can’t, and UNLIKE malcontents with the technical know-how to bounce from site to site with the government always a step behind, she isn’t going to find a way around, so she’s annoyed. Not a PR disaster, to be sure, but still relevant.

    As for the netizens who want to see facebook punished, I maintain their opinion is stupid and the gov’t should ignore it.


  14. Custer,

    It is not about information, it is about organizing riots or protests (whatever you like to call it) through internet. That is why CCP has strong grips of religious activities and other parties, and protests. Who care about religious activities ? they dont eat on certain days, ok, go ahead; you want to believe there is a God, fine, believe it.

    The issue is that people will gather together in such activities, hence the power may be strong enough to challenge the government.

    And this riot gives CCP a legitmate reason to block internet cuz someone are trying to going into backyard and light your house. Have a look of the link I posted, Chinese would think it is OK to block such messages.

    Listen, in West, it is individualism; in China, it is collectivism. If Chinese believe something has to be done for the common good, then most of them wont mind government taking extreme measurement, the death penalty is an example of this.


  15. Right, but my point — which you missed completely — is that blocking sites like this DOESN’T ACTUALLY SERVE A COLLECTIVIST PURPOSE.


  16. @ Wahaha,

    I think comparisons with 6/4 might actually have some merit, despite Custer’s good points (what seems like ages ago) about the intellectual laziness of comparing every sign of unrest in China with Tiananmen. If the Urumqi riot started with a peaceful rally in the center of the city, followed by relatively peaceful march, followed by chaos, as some of those Youtube videos suggest, then the parallel is eerily similar. Repression by the Xinjiang authorities may have turned what should have been tolerable dissent into a bloodbath. Of course, the violence by city dwellers on June 4 was directed at troops, not fellow civilians, so the two events are rather different in one very important aspect…

    Your point about tragedies like this only strengthening the CCP’s hand and about China’s lack of pro-democracy leaders are both well-taken. I suppose my response—and this is somewhere I have little confidence, just guessing around—is that even if a riot makes people more concerned about order, it can still force a change in the government’s policies. So, the CCP (I’m using “government” and “Party” interchangeably here) could get stronger *and* better. Not sure if that’s good or bad in the long run, but there it is.

    As to pro-democracy leaders… they are always nipped in the bud. There association with the West doesn’t help them, but then, everyone will be tarred at some point with something. If it’s not an association with NED it’s making the wrong interview or even just having an opinion that’s not nationalistic enough. Anything that will gin up the ire of folks online.

    That’s why I think people like you should hold your fire. Being critical of dissidents’ opinions is fine (I think, for example, that many of them are too “liberal,” putting a naiive faith in institutions and markets rather than ordinary people)—but blasting them with the full weight of your anger just makes it that much harder for a healthy, mature opposition to form.

    Why should an opposition form? Because, among other reasons, things *aren’t* stable, the collective good *isn’t* being attended to. You are, perhaps, confusing rhetoric and reality.

    @ Woodoo,

    The story you linked to is pretty horrifying. Ugh… people can be cruel to each other.


  17. Whether it is Han or Uighur, there is this anger that runs deep. Certainly no one is right in this situation.
    Anger was simply met with Anger and the CCP does not have an inkling on how to manage such a complex social issue. Neither is there an effort , beyond trying to control it after the fact.


  18. “blocking sites like this DOESN’T ACTUALLY SERVE A COLLECTIVIST PURPOSE. ”


    Sometimes it does, sometime it does not.

    Like the education system in America and in China : the education system in China is obviously not good for creativity, but most students at least learn basic skills to earn a decent leaving in the future (as long as there are job opportunities); in America, students are free, they learn only when they want to learn, this is good for the most talented students; but for average students, lot of them lose the chance of learning basic skills for a better living in the future, lot of good-pay jobs are taken by immigrants.

    That is Yin and Yang.


  19. OTR,

    Maybe you heard of TV series “Boston Legal”.

    In one episode, a town called Concord sued US government and wanted to secede from United States, it makes Denny Crane (the best lawyer in Boston, according to the series) and a 70 yr old judge furious. and Denny Crane almost broke up his friendship with Alan Shore.

    Imagine that a French had butted into this issue, and talked about freedom of people’s choice, what would average Amerians think ?

    People will listen to you when you talk about something they care, and they will be annoyed when you talk about something that is against their believe. That is the same all over the world. When west media keep talking about something Chinese dont like, it wont bother Chinese anymore when CCP block west media. American TV stations never use AL Jazeera news, the biggest TV station in Middle east, does it bother Americans ?


  20. @ Wahaha,

    I’m not sure how this relates to my previous points about parallels between June 4 and the Urumqi riot, different directions in which the government might evolve, pro-democracy leaders (or the lack thereof) and the need for an opposition. I will try to answer all your questions, though!

    First, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if France had an opinion about the situation involving the town of Concord presented in that TV show you mentioned. I would consider what France had to say and then draw my own conclusions. As to the majority of American people, my guess is that they would disagree with France if it advocated independence for Concord—but then, America is not advocating the secession of Xinjiang, so the parallel seems a bit clumsy. Even if America *were* advocating for the secession of Xinjiang or Tibet or Inner Mongolia or wherever, a better comparison might be with the rights of Native Americans living on reservations or Hawaiians, both of whom have much more grounds than Concord for wishing to secede. Then, I would be torn, but might well come down on the side of secession for some of these.

    Second, yes, people are annoyed when you say things with which they disagree. That’s natural. But that doesn’t mean people should be shielded from it, even if they want to be shielded.

    Third, it is indeed a pity that American TV stations rarely use Al Jazeera (I say “rarely,” because my local public TV station uses some Al Jazeera reports in a sort of roundup it does of news programs from around the world—which usually includes BBC, Al Jazeera, and Deutsche Welle or something). Al Jazeera has some excellent reporting. But no one is asking China to carry every foreign TV station there is—just not to censor the internet, i.e. not to actively block things. Al Jazeera is not censored from the internet here or most other places; in fact, it is quite popular as a source on websites.

    Finally, most of your arguments on this blog and others seem to revolve around the question of hypocrisy. I agree that it is always worth being self-critical and watchful of double-standards. But this seems to be a secondary argument to whatever is the actual issue at hand.

    For example, if there is a race riot in the U.S. (to change the setting), it may be useful to examine, say, French hypocrisy (to use your example again) in criticizing the riot when they themselves just experienced race riots in Paris… BUT that would be a distant second in importance to discussing the actual riot at hand, why it happened, how to resolve the grievances that lay at its heart, etc. Your response seems to be the opposite: first identify who is a hypocrite and then, maybe, just maybe, examine the issues at hand, if there’s time…


  21. OTR,

    I dont know how you could say “comparisons with 6/4 might actually have some merit, “, as the purpose were completely opposite. so I dont want to comment on that.

    ” it wouldn’t hurt my feelings “, but it hurt Denny Crane and the judge’s feeling. It is easy to say when you are not in the same spot.

    “But that doesn’t mean people should be shielded from it, ” It is not shield. There are 300 million netizens in China, their eyes are everywhere. They know the problems in China and dont need outside world to remind them again and again, and again. BTW, in east culture, you dont criticize others unless you are perfect or near perfect. No offense, with the history, West are not qualified to judge other in the eyes of lot Chinese. Especially countries like Great Britain and France. (you see that Japan has never been in the front to finger-point China, that is east culture.)

    It is not hypocrisy, it is about looking at the big picture, it is about comparison which should be used when you make judgement. Like a Chinese parent wanted her son entering Harvard and hired a math tutor, her son still failed entering Harvard but entered Penn Univerisity. Is the tutor perfect ? no. but entering harvard is not the way when you judge the tutor. Maybe her son is not clever enough, maybe no better tutor was available.

    So it is about the way you think. Westerners often first have a theory in their mind, a theory that cant be compromised, then use that theory to make judgement on how things should be done, like Michael Fay’s case, and completely dismissing the surrounding situations and potential impact.

    Maybe you know that tens of thousands of illegal immigrants in US were sent home, and their kids have no fathers or mothers. ( do you know several kids sued Obama for that ?) That is an example that you do things according to the theory (humanity), but the result is the opposite of you want.

    Let me repeat : Westerners think things based on right and wrong (the theory), Chinese think things based on possible outcomes. (That is why I did lot of comparison to show the possible outcomes.)


  22. I don’t really go in for all that essentialist stuff about Western and Eastern modes of thinking being so fundamentally different.

    But leaving all that aside, if indeed one needed to be “perfect or near perfect” to offer criticism—or, it seems, in your opinion, to even discuss an issue—relating to something somewhere else, then we would all be effectively gagged and bound for all eternity. We might as well not even read the World section of the news.

    Obviously, actively denying a problem in place X while highlighting the same problem it in place Y is dishonest. But have I done that? On the contrary, I’ve largely agreed with most of your criticisms of the United States, India and elsewhere. You have added a new one to the comment above, namely that American immigration policy sucks. Once again, I agree.


  23. It is not about denying problems, it is about finding solutions.

    I havent eaten for two days, and there is fat meat in front of me. Are you gonna tell me that the meat is not good for my health cuz of high cholestrol ?

    To find solution, you have to know if this problem is unique or common problem. Simple as that.


    ” namely that American immigration policy sucks. Once again, I agree. ”

    You think it sucks, but there is nothing you can do about it. cuz of some, … you know … high criteria from above… you know.

    That is not the altitude Chinese have.

    Dont tell us what we cant do, tell us how to solve the problems.


  24. Well, maybe we agree on some things then.

    I suppose it’s fair to come out with my sense of the situation, too, then. I think the form of development that the CCP has adopted in Xinjiang and Tibet does not suit the needs of the people in those places, at least not for now. Equally importantly, I think Beijing would do well to increase local voices in governance and not limit Tibetans and Uighurs to secondary roles, i.e. government (governor, mayor, etc.) rather than Party leadership. Otherwise, there’s little reason for these peoples to listen to the Party / government’s paternalistic talk of development and harmony.

    And censorship of the net—whether in China, Iran, or Germany or anywhere else—is wrong and, in the long term if not the short-term, counter-productive.

    Your link (at least the first post under the link) refers to the use of Facebook to organize Uighur and other “independence” movements. So what? It also has several Hawaii independence groups. It has (or had) a fan club for Wen Jiabao. People post stuff in support of the CCP there and there are numerous “Anti-CNN” groups on Facebook. You can’t demand that it choose one side on X issue rather than Y.


  25. ” censorship of the net—whether in China, Iran, or Germany or anywhere else—is wrong.”

    Yeah, if someone is smoking and is holding a bottle of gasoline in front your house, you wont call police.


  26. You haven’t responded to my arguments about Facebook, but simply given another analogy, this time one that I can’t for the life of me figure out.

    What in the world does someone smoking and holding a bottle of gasoline in front of my house and the dilemma of whether or not to call the police have to do with censorship? Does the careless smoker represent harmful web content? Are the police then censors? Or am I, the person in the house, the censor, who must act fast because police will only arrive after my house has blown up?


  27. “You haven’t responded to my arguments about Facebook,”


    You know McCathyism, right ?

    What was it for ? Because after WWII, communism was considered a threat to the west system.

    Why was the practice of McCathyism weakened in later 50s ? cuz Stalin was exposed, people in West saw what had happened in a communist country and were no longer interested in pursuing communism, so communism was no longer a threat, hence there was no problem to let people to talk about it.

    There are so many papers by scholars who have questioned the democratic system, did you ever see any of them on major newspapers ? Why ? because those are the threats to the system.

    In so many developing countries, democratic system failed to deliver materially, did you see newspaper ever question the system ?

    Did any newspaper in West give an reasonable explanation why Russian people abandoned democracy in only 9 years ? not only that, they elected a former KGB as their leaders.

    The same in China, when there are reports that threaten the system, the reports will be blocked as long as CCP is in power. As long as US is under democratic system, no major media will talk about the problems of the system, because it threaten the interests of the people who have benefited most from the system.

    Who are the people that have benefited most from the democratic system ? not government officials. So, make your guess.


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